In the "Expanse", Jim states that he was born in a "commune farm" and that he (literally) has multiple fathers and mothers - each one added a part of their own of genetic material and then they've selected a woman with the widest hips to carry him to the term.

Was it done for some religious or political reasons? One of his mothers says that "they were preparing him for a fight, that he couldn't win".

What fight was it? I understand that the farm had some legal issues with the government?

  • Personally, I think your probably overly thinking it. BUT, a) they knew of the proto-molecule and attempted a Genetic Engineer Solution. b) They all licked each other and wanted him to carry the "relevant" parts of their DNA forward. c) They philosophically believed multi-parent DNA contributions was the future of mankind. I just decided to ignore it until something indicates it is a plot device vs a nod towards the emerging technology of multiple DNA contributors we are seeing. Commented May 7, 2017 at 18:16
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    They couldn't know about the proto-molecule: It is a top secret knowledge that even most people in the government don't know about, also it seems that it has been discovered quite recently - Jim is at least ~25 years old
    – Yasskier
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 18:18
  • I only listed the possibilities that I figured were plausible. The Proto-Molecule existed before he was born, we are not given details of who his parents are, their job occupation etc. We are lead to believe they are influential. So, it is possible that they knew but for some reason did not participate or exploit it. As a generalization, One does not introduce something like this unless one intends to use it at a later point in time. Having said that, some ideas at the beginning just don't fit and get abandoned. IF you think about it, why are his parent(s) even relevant and that is another .. Commented May 7, 2017 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


According to the source novel it was done (largely) as a tax dodge. Having multiple parents means that each parent can claim a tax break to support their child. Eight parents means eight allowances but with only one additional mouth to feed.

“So many parents for only one child,” Lopez said, slowly unwrapping another lozenge. The Martians had lots of space for traditional families.
“The tax break for eight adults only having one child allowed them to own twenty-two acres of decent farmland. There are over thirty billion people on Earth. Twenty-two acres is a national park,” Holden said. “Also, the DNA mix is legit. They aren’t parents in name only.”
“How did they decide who carried you?”
“Mother Elise had the widest hips.”

Leviathan Wakes - Chapter Eleven: Holden

It would appear that his parents weren't just linked for legal purposes, they were also engaged in a complex and shifting polyamorous relationship.

They’d talked about how to break the news to the crew but hadn’t come to any consensus. Holden hated to hide anything. Keeping it secret made it seem dirty or shameful. His parents had raised him to believe that sex was something you did in private not because it was embarrassing, but because it was intimate. With five fathers and three mothers, the sleeping arrangements were always complex at his house, but the discussions about who was bedding with whom were never hidden from him. It left him with a strong aversion to hiding his own activities.

Leviathan Wakes - Chapter Forty-Seven: Holden

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    Fantastic answer, thanks. Do you have any idea what "fight that he couldn't win" Elise was talking about? I believe it had to do something with keeping the farm.
    – Yasskier
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 20:57
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    @Yasskier Sounds like another question ;)
    – Harabeck
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 21:41
  • @Yasskier The books and the series have multiple references to Don Quixote (book by Cervantes in 1605). Quixote went from one unwinnable noble cause to another and then another. The horse Quixote rode he had named Rocinante. James holden is Don Quixote in space. The book on the table that Avasarala pages thru when talking to Elise?? That was the book Don Quixote.
    – BradV
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 19:28

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